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Kenya

Kenyan youth to get internships

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 23 – Unemployed Kenyan youth will in the next few weeks start benefiting from a programme that will link them with six months internship and work experience in the private sector.

This follows the introduction of the soon to be launched ‘Kenya Youth Empowerment Project’ (KYEP) which aims to equip jobless youth of between the ages of 15 and 29 with the skills they need in order to be gainfully employed.

The Sh1.2 billion four-and-a-half year program will be partly funded from a Sh4.8 billion loan from the World Bank and managed by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) which Project Director Linda Thompson says will help address the skills gap in the labour market.

“We have asked for an Expression of Interest from our KEPSA membership and in September/October, we will advertise to the youth in a process which will be countrywide and transparent. Every youth that qualified under that criteria will be eligible to apply,” said Ms Thompson.

Besides being in the 15 to 29 age bracket, interested people will need to have at least eight years of education and be out of work for a year.  Applicants will then be selected randomly with the successful ones scheduled to start their training on November 1.

KEPSA has already recruited four officers who’ll be involved in managing the project and another four will be hired soon.

“Every cycle (there will be two in a year), we will be placing 1,700 interns and matching them to employers; we will be asking them which sector they want to go into. However, we will also be considering their aptitude,” the director added.

The project will initially focus on Nairobi and Mombasa and a third location which is yet to be determined. Those selected will need to make themselves available for the training which will see them pocket a monthly stipend of Sh6,000.

“The key thing that makes it different from other internships (programs) is, it will be employer-driven and 50 percent of the internships will be in third party technical training with the first two weeks being a residential life skills module,” Ms Thompson explained.

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By the end of the project in late 2014, about 11, 000 young people will have had the internship and hopefully half of them will be employed in several key sectors of economy which Ms Thompson said will boost the country’s goals to be an industrialised state in the next two decades.

Unemployment rate in Kenya is estimated to be at 40 percent and Ms Thompson expects many challenges as they go about implementing this ambitious project.

And while she acknowledges that the number of those who’ll benefit in the pilot project is a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to the youth population, they hope that the program can eventually be transformed into a national youth internship policy in future.

“It could help if the country had a policy which could help bring all the youth initiatives and the different stakeholders and development partners on board and have them put their resources in the same direction, I’m sure that would be to the benefit of the country,” she enthused.

The success of this project would ensure that Kenya produces better equipped youth who can be gainfully employed or those who can start their own business and help drive the country’s economic development, the director added.

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